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350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 11

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful


1956 "Die Heilige Qur'an" First Afrikaans Translation of the Holy Qur'an

Imam Mohammed Baker of Simonstown was a qualified school teacher from the

Zobbebloem College in District Six, Cape Town. He became principal of the

Simonstown Muslim Mission School. Imam Baker began the first translation of the

Most Holy Qur'an into the Afrikaans language in 1956. Having completed the

translation, he published it under the title "Die Heilige Qur'an" [The Holy Qur'an]

in 1961. The translation does not contain the Arabic Text, footnotes, commentary, or

index. It was printed in Cape Town by the Cape Times Limited and contains 464

pages. Imam Baker died in Cape Town in 1982 aged 72.

Die Heilige Qur'an was reprinted with revisions in 1981 by the Islamic Propagation

Centre of Durban. 15,000 copies of the Qur'an were published for distribution in the

platteland.

1956 M. L. Sultan Technikon, Durban

The M. L. Sultan Technikon College [now Technikon] in Centenary Road, Durban

was officially opened in 1956. Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan, after whom the

Technikon is named, was born in Quillon, Malabar, South India, on February 15th,

1873. It is said that he left his hometown to seek employment in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]

but the ship which he was to board broke down and could not set sail.

Consequently, he decided to enroll as an indentured labourer arriving in Port Natal

[Durban] in 1890 and worked for the Natal Government as a railway porter at the

Berea Road Station in Durban. Having completed his period of indenture of five

years, he went to the Transvaal and worked as a waiter at one of the hotels in

Johannesburg. He returned to Durban and settled in Bellair. In 1905 he married

Mariam Bee [d 1933].

He and his wife moved to Escombe [Natal] and went first into banana and tobacco

farming, and after some time, he went into property business. M.L.Sultan soon

became one of the leading property dealers in Natal. It was in 1942 that he was

introduced to the Technical Education Committee; and out of the deliberations

came his generous offer of Twenty Five Thousand Rands that is, half the cost of the

proposed technical college building. In addition to this, he endowed a further Ten

Thousand Rand for the extension of a science block.

The Hugo Commission [under the Higher Education Act No. 30 0f 1923]

recommended a building grant on a Rand for Rand basis and the approval of a

college. This important step resulted in the establishment of the first Indian

Technical College in South Africa, namely, the M.L.Sultan Technical College in

Durban, with full statutory rights, powers and duties and with an independent

College Council.

M.L.Sultan, the founder of the M.L.Sultan Charitable and Educational Trust, was

the first patron of the College. Shortly before his death on September 6th, 1953,

M.L.Sultan increased the original gift for the college building from Twenty Five

Thousand Rand to Sixty Thousand Rand. After the death of his wife, he established

the Mariam Bee Charitable and Educational Trust in her memory, and set aside Fifty

Thousand Rands as an endowment for a proposed children's hospital. In 1978 the

name of the College was changed to M.L.Sultan Technikon.

1957 Cape Muslim Youth Movement

The Cape Muslim Youth Movement [CMYM] was founded in Cape Town in 1957.

The Movement played a vital role in highlighting the dynamism of Islam and

creating general political awareness amongst the Muslims, One of the major

activities of the CMYM was study circles at various centres. Many CMYM members

joined the Muslim Assembly when it was formed in 1967.

1957 Islamic Propagation Centre International

During the mid 50's and early 60's, the Arabic Study Circle of Durban, on Sunday

mornings, conducted Arabic language classes tutored by Mahomed A. Mahomedy

[Bhai Mota], followed by Qur'an Tafsir classes conducted by Joseph Perdu, then

followed study classes in comparative religion in which Christianity, Hinduism,

Judaism, etc were taught by various visiting lecturers. In 1956 Ahmed Deedat took

charge of these classes.

The raison d'etre was to equip thinking Muslims of ways to counteract Christian

missionary and local media propaganda against Islam and Muslims, such as:

* Islam was spread by the sword

* Muslims worship Muhammad [P.B.O.H.]

* Islam was a danger to South Africa;

* Muslim women were not emancipated

* Muslims were anti-Christ etc.

Against this background, a year later, on March 17th, 1957 there was sufficient

interest in the Muslim community of Durban for the establishment of a Da'wah

society. This led to the formation of the Islamic Propagation Centre [IPC] with

Goolam Hoosen E. Vanker as President, Ahmed Deedat as Secretary and Abdul

Khalick Salejee as Treasurer. Others elected at this meeting were: Sulaiman Shaikjee,

G.H. Agjee, Moosa Kajee, Valley Mahomed and Cassim Vanker.

1958 Establishment of Nurul Huda Masjid

In 1939 the Jassiem family had constructed a prayer room in Schoone Kloof, Cape

Town, where in 1958, the Nurul Huda Masjid was constructed in Leeuwen Street.

The majority of the population in this area were Muslims. Only about 20% were

Christians but "there has never been any religious friction in the whole of the Bo-

Kaap between Christians and Muslims".

1958 Claremont Muslim Youth Association.

Guided by Imam Abdullah Haron, some Muslim teachers such as Sedick [Dickie]

Galant, Ismail [Maili] Saban, Yusuf [Jowa] Abrahams, Abu Bakr Fakier [Brom] and

artisans such as Andul Kariem Sadan [Gap], Cassiem Sadan [Bounie], Yusuf [Joe]

Arnold, Sieraj Galant [Dockie], Rashaad Sadan, Omar Abrahams, etc established the

Claremont Muslim Youth Association [CMYA] in Cape Town in March 1958. In

1963 the CMYA elected Imam Abdullah Haron as Honorary Life President. The

Association came to an abrupt end in 1964.

1958 Islamic Missionary Society.

The Islamic Missionary Society was founded in 1958 by a group of concerned

Muslims [of Johannesburg] who were alarmed that no Da'wah [propagation] work

was being done in the Transvaal in particular and in South Africa on a large scale,

and that millions of the oppressed non-white people of the country had not received

the message of Islam. It was thus resolved at a public meeting held at the Suleiman

Nana Memorial Hall, Johannesburg, to form the Islamic Missionary Society. The

aims and objectives of the Society are:

propagate and teach Islam and to cultivate among Muslims knowledge and love for

the religious ideals, traditions and principles of Islam; assist indigent and suffering

Muslims; provide facilities for the education of Muslim children carry out extensive

Da'wah activities among non-Muslims; to teach them Islam and to create an Islamic

atmosphere in which they can live their lives in accordance with the Din of Islam.

Build, maintain and conduct Madaris, Masaajid, Da'wah training centers and other

institutions necessary for the propagation of Islam, and do all that is necessary by

way of publications, lectures and educational and humanitarian institutions to

achieve the aim of Islamizing South Africa. During the first phase of the Society, it

launched a series of publications on Islam which aimed at awakening the interest of

both Muslims and non-Muslims towards Islam and the Muslim community.

During its second phase, the Society succeeded in Introducing Islam in the various

African townships surrounding Johannesburg - giving Da'wah to the

underprivileged people of South Africa. House to house visits, organized in Soweto

and other townships, calling and inviting the people to Islam proved successful.

Gradually after years of hard work, Africans from the townships began to embrace

Islam on a daily basis. The Islamic Missionary Society maintains that during the last

thirty years, thousands have embraced Islam in South Africa.

The Islamic Missionary Society obtained permission to build the first Masjid in the

township of Soweto, near Johannesburg. This was done with the assistance of the

Rabitat-al-Alam al-Islami of Makkah. The Masjid and Madrasah were built in the

name of the Soweto Muslim Association. The Society has established an Islamic

Centre with fulltime Da'is in the township of Sharpville.

A Jama'at Khana and Madrasah in Kwa Thema an African township east of

Johannesburg, where a fulltime Da'i is employed. Application for land for building

a Masjid and Madrasah in Kwa Thema was made. The Islamic Missionary Society

maintains several Jama'at Kahnas and Madaris in many other townships in the

Transvaal, such as different sections of Soweto, Lekazi section of Kanyamazini

homeland in the Eastern Transvaal.

At the Islamic Centres of the Society in the townships, they have established feeding

centres where the poor and destitute are provided daily with bread and soup. The

society also distributes clothing, shoes and blankets in the townships just before Id

al-Fitr at their Centres. The Islamic Missionary Society has established self-help

projects in the form of knitting, sewing, gardening etc. With these projects the

workers are helped in maintaining their families with their income.

 

Abdul Hamid Lachporia

 

Sources:

(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

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